News / Western Harbour

Makeup of Western Harbour Advisory Group criticised for being too close to mayor

By martin booth, Monday Nov 4, 2019

Local councillors have slammed a new advisory group which will be influencing early plans for the Western Harbour development.

The Western Harbour Advisory Group includes Bristol’s two elected youth mayors but not any elected councillors to discuss plans to transform an area which encompasses parts of Hotwells, Bedminster and Spike Island.

“It seems to be a growing trend that when major decisions in the city have to be made, the mayor pulls together unscrutinised, unelected groups full of the usual suspects to discuss them and provide ‘advice,'” said Stephen Clarke, Green Party councillor for Southville.

“The people that seem to be left out of these ad-hoc groups are local people and their elected representatives; this cannot be justified and the mayor should reconsider the makeup of this advisory group.”

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The advisory group currently includes:

  • Alice Bond, Hope Community Church
  • Chris Grazier, Bristol Property Agents
  • David Mellor, architect
  • David Carter, WECA
  • Dennis Gornall, Cumberland Basin Stakeholder Group
  • Ian Wilkinson, Underfall Yard
  • James Durie, Business West
  • John Hirst, Destination Bristol
  • John Savage (proposed chair), Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative
  • Kevin Bourner, Homes England
  • Lucy Shomali, North Somerset Council
  • Marti Burgess, City Centre Revitalisation Group
  • Martin Griffith, Ashton Gate Stadium
  • Matthew Tanner, SS Great Britain
  • Mohamed Aidid, youth mayor
  • Paul Baker, Bristol Property Agents
  • Paul Hassan, representing community organisations
  • Siena Jackson-Wolfe, youth mayor
  • Simon Dicken, Bedminster BID

The present Cumberland Basin road network could be completely transformed – photo by Anna Starkey

When the group was announced, Rees said: “As we are still at the early stages of this exciting project, collaboration with everyone who uses this space is vital and the advisory group will help us develop a masterplan for Western Harbour.

“The group will also work closely with a wider reference group. We have already met with a number of local businesses to take their views into account and are listening to residents.”

A Bristol City Council spokesperson told Bristol24/7: “The advisory group was established by the mayor of Bristol to represent specific sectors and networks in the city, with members that have proven ability to convene, influence, champion and bring different organisations, including the wider Western Harbour Reference Group, together, to deliver outcomes for the city.

“We are grateful to individuals supporting this project for their time – regardless of where they live and who they are. This is the start of the advisory group and other members may be added as required.”

Plimsoll Bridge is likely to be demolished if plans for the Western Harbour go ahead

Hotwells & Harbourside Lib Dem councillor, Mark Wright, added that “it’s actually pretty outrageous that the mayor has deliberately excluded the people elected to represent their local communities from the stakeholder group of his plans”.

He said: “It would make obvious sense to have one Lib Dem, one Labour and one Green councillor from the surrounding wards on the panel, at least…

“Looking at the list of people that have been chosen, it’s impossible not to think that it is mostly a list of people on good personal terms with the mayor – with a relatively low number of people from the area that will be impacted by the plans. I find that just so disappointing.”

Clifton, Hotwells and Harbourside Labour Party are holding a public meeting to discuss Western Harbour plans, with Marvin Rees speaking, at 6pm on Wednesday, November 13 at Holy Trinity Church, Clifton Vale.

Read more: Detailed Western Harbour maps and reports published for first time

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